A pair of powerful female fight cards await fans in both women’s MMA and professional boxing on Saturday.
In Rosarito Beach, Mexico, WBO flyweight world titlist Kenia Enriquez (13-0, 6 Kos) of nearby Tijuana meets former champion Melissa McMorrow (9-5-3) of San Francisco, California. On the same card legendary Jackie Nava defends the WBC and WBA super bantamweight belts against Mayra Gomez. Both fights take place at Centro de Convenciones. Azteca TV will televise.
Up north in Los Angeles, MMA queen Ronda Rousey (10-0) defends her bantamweight title against Cat Zingano (9-0) at the Staples Center on UFC 184. It will be shown on pay-per-view. A co-main event features former boxing champion Holly Holm facing Raquel Pennington.
First, in boxing, it’s a battle between a young rising star Enriquez, who recently claimed the WBO title with a sterling performance in San Diego last year. Now she faces the female prizefighter who formerly held the same title and did not lose it in the boxing ring.
“The WBO stripped the belt from me because I went too long without defending it. I was tied up in a contract with a promoter who never put me on any shows so I did not have the opportunity to fight,” explained McMorrow, who captured the title by decision in Germany against Susi Kentikian. “After a year of sitting in the contract, I walked, but the WBO vacated the belt due to inactivity.
McMorrow has fought a string of some of Mexico’s best female prizefighters, including Mariana Juarez, Arely Mucino and Jessica Chavez. Despite some gritty performances she lost to each fighter.
“I still think a number of my fights in Mexico have been unfairly not in my favor, but I do credit the situation for making me a better fighter,” said McMorrow, 33. “I know that I need to win by a landslide and I have been working on my power and punch volume so that my wins are undeniable.”
Enriquez has a height advantage and despite her youth has exhibited an ability to adapt quickly and utilize the fighting skills honed in the amateurs and with her famous boxing trainer.
“This fight is significant because I face a well-known rival, and the most experienced I have ever confronted. But I feel I have the means to prove who I am and when I’m done, I will remain the champion,” said Enriquez 21. “I have evolved and will come to this fight with a better repertoire, technique forged by my team and the legendary trainer Rómulo Quirarte.”
The Tijuana boxer-puncher has shown the ability to box, punch or defend with amazing agility. Jabs are her primary weapon but she’s shown a killer instinct with a penchant for finishing foes if hurt. She knows McMorrow has fought the best and not come close to being stopped.
“I have the ability, capacity, and the punch, I only have to implement the strategy that we worked in the gym which is boxing,” Enriquez said. “I have to take advantage of my height and my long arms.”
The shorter McMorrow has always faced taller and seemingly quicker fighters. For this fight she intends to add more ingredients to her pressure fighting formula.
“Kenia has never tasted pressure. So far the pressure I put on people dissolves even the best fighters,” said McMorrow. “I plan to stick to my game plan of fighting on the inside and pressuring non-stop.”
Ronda Rousey considers Cat Zingano her toughest opponent as a professional. But losing is not a consideration.
“My mom always told me no one has the right to beat you,” said Rousey. “Cat is definitely the best well rounded fighter I’ve ever faced before. And has the best mentality I’ve ever come across.”
But if you think Rousey thinks Zingano is her match, afraid not. She already has future plans.
“After I beat Cat there’s a very strong possibility that I will fight Holly Holm down the line,” Rousey said.
Holm (7-0), a former junior welterweight and welterweight world champion boxer, now fights purely in MMA and has zoomed up the charts quickly. She meets Pennington (5-5) and the winner will most probably fight Rousey.
The current bantamweight champion Rousey invites the match-up with Holm.
“She’s the first world champion boxer that is seriously joining MMA. I know that James Toney did it but he wasn’t really joining UFC, it was just one fight,” Rousey said of fighting Holm. “The fight with Holly Holm down the line will have an Olympic medalist in judo facing a world champion in boxing. It really gets down to the roots of what MMA was in the beginning.”
Saturday’s two female fight cards prove that headway is taking place for female prize fights. They’re pushing their way to the public eye.
Follow David A. Avila on the Twitter: